News & Features

Trains Kill Three Grizzly Bears Near Marias Pass

Adult female and two yearlings were grazing along the tracks when two separate trains hit them on June 6

Three bears were killed on the train tracks near Glacier National Park earlier this month, according to a press release from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

On June 6, a freight train struck an adult grizzly bear two miles east of Marias Pass that had been grazing on the tracks with two yearlings. The female bear weighed approximately 232 pounds and had been previously captured in the park in 2000.

Later that same day, another train at the same location struck the two male yearlings.

Montana FWP investigated the two collisions and determined that there were no attractants that would have drawn the three bears to the tracks.

Trains hitting bears have long been a problem in Northwest Montana, particularly in the 1980s and early 1990s, when a series of derailments left spilled grain along the right-of-way that attracted bears. In the 1990s, BNSF Railway predecessor Burlington Northern teamed up with FWP, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service and other stakeholders to create the Great Northern Environmental Stewardship Area in an effort to reduce the number of train-related fatalities. The railroad increased its efforts to pick up spilled grain and to reduce vegetation along the tracks that might attract the animals.

Last year, trains near West Glacier and Columbia Falls struck and killed two male bears.